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Editorial: Rudy Giuliani's grotesque legal antics justify disbarment investigation

Editorial: Rudy Giuliani's grotesque legal antics justify disbarment investigation

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Rudy Giuliani and other top lawyers for the Trump campaign have spent weeks spreading wild conspiracy theories, slandering countless election officials and filing one baseless lawsuit after another in their zeal to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s Nov. 3 victory. An effort underway to seek professional sanctions against them is perhaps just what’s needed to dissuade other attorneys from abusing their licenses this way in the future.

It isn’t just that Giuliani and his fellow campaign lawyers have lost or withdrawn more than two dozen legal challenges now. It’s that going into court again and again with explosive allegations but without a scintilla of evidence, just to whip up Donald Trump’s base, is the very definition of abusing the legal system.

Take Pennsylvania. Giuliani sought to throw out all the state’s roughly 7 million ballots because some counties allowed a handful of voters to fix errors on their mail ballots. U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann, a registered Republican, was incredulous. He threw it out with a searing ruling that likened the case to “Frankenstein’s Monster … haphazardly stitched together” with “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations … unsupported by evidence.”

Outside the courtroom, Giuliani & Co. have been even more irresponsible, nationally airing reckless, often ridiculous conspiracy theories that, notably, they didn’t even bother to argue in court. The advantage of announcing at a press conference an evidence-free conspiracy that loops in China, Cuba, Venezuela, antifa and the right wing’s ever-sinister bogeyman, George Soros, is that there’s no pesky judge around to demand proof. And since it’s coming from the president’s personal lawyer, certain segments of the public will give it credence.

That’s the point. Giuliani knows his case has no hope in court, because he has no case. He is using these frivolous filings and outlandish news conferences to help Trump undermine public faith in the election, to convince Republican legislatures to overturn the vote or as groundwork for a 2024 campaign based on fake grievance. This isn’t what lawyers are supposed to be doing with their law degrees.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., has filed complaints with bar officials in five states against Giuliani and 22 of his fellow Trump campaign lawyers. In addition to the frivolous suits, Pascrell accuses them of engaging in “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation,” and argues they should be disbarred. That (or, more likely, some lesser sanction) may well be justified by their behavior — though that argument is next to useless coming from a sitting Democratic congressman, where it will be deemed a partisan jab.

That said, the legal profession itself should be looking hard at this outlandish behavior. If the duty of the bar is to self-police for destructive abuses that bring the whole profession into disrepute, this has been a textbook example.

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